Most insect bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce the itch. However, sometimes a insect bite or sting could turn into something serious – particularly if you have been bitten or stung by many insects at the same time.
Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after a insect bite or sting:
- Difficulty breathing
- The sensation that your throat is closing
- Swollen lips, tongue or face
- Chest pain
- A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes
- A headache
- A red, donut-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite: This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.
- A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads: This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.
Although most insect bites and stings do not turn into a severe or even fatal illness like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms. If you feel tired all the time, you have a headache, fever or body aches, or you develop a rash after an insect bite, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately.